Tuned In

Healthcare.gov Is, Like, the Twelfth “Obama’s Katrina” So Far

There is no force of man or nature more powerful than a news cliché.

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Win McNamee / Getty Images

Barack Obama speaks on the Affordable Care Act in the White House briefing room Nov. 14, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

You don’t have to have read very deeply in the minutiae of the Healthcare.gov fiasco to have picked up on a certain musical meme in the coverage: the Affordable Care Act is “Obama’s Katrina.” The implication is clear: that like the New Orleans hurricane and flood, the health care reform effort is a disaster,  it claimed innocent victims, and it has undermined public confidence in government.

There is a bright side to all of this, however. If Healthcare.gov is Obama’s Katrina, then we could not ask for a more experienced leader to deal with the problem. Because according to the news and punditry of the last five years, President Obama has had at least a dozen “Obama’s Katrina”s so far.

Probably the most widespread usage of  the phrase “Obama’s Katrina” before now came during the BP oil spill in 2010. There at least you had history maybe not repeating but rhyming: a natural an environmental disaster (if not a massive loss of human life), the location in the Gulf near New Orleans, a seemingly paralyzed government response. And, of course, it had partisan utility: Karl Rove, who had some experience with the actual Katrina, christened the spill thus in the Wall Street Journal.

But “Obama’s Katrina” would not limit itself to one geographic region, or to environmental disasters, or to disasters at all. At conservative site Breitbart.com, days before the 2012 election, Hurricane Sandy was “Obama’s Katrina.” After tornadoes devastated the Midwest, commentators (including Katrina’s Michael “Heckuva Job” Brown) likened the disaster to “Obama’s Katrina,” criticizing the President for an overseas trip. Sequestration has been Obama’s Katrina. The New Republic dubbed the 2011 debt ceiling crisis Obama’s Katrina. (But, fair’s fair, also “Boehner’s Katrina.” Everyone gets a Katrina!) Earlier this year, conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin wrote that, “In a way, the NSA intelligence gathering is Obama’s Katrina.” Sure! In a way, what isn’t?

I could go on and on, but writing in ThinkProgress, Judd Legum recently identified several more “Obama’s Katrina”s in the media: the bank bailout, Benghazi, unemployment, the underwear bomber, the IRS scandal, and the earthquake in Haiti.

Obviously there are partisan motives behind plenty of these, but not exclusively: one of Legum’s examples, for instance, comes from liberal New York magazine columnist Frank Rich. Beyond the desire of one party to score a two-fer–christening a scandal for the opposition while ameliorating one of their own past scandals in the process–there’s the good-old-fashioned reflex of the media to cast This Thing in terms of That Other Thing. God knows it didn’t originate with the Obama Administration; we’ve lived through four decades of “-gates” by now. It’s just easier to have a precooked bit of hyperbole that declares, “This is big news” than to go through the trouble of distinguishing how this news is different from other news.

There was one Katrina. There was one Watergate. Maybe Healthcare.gov will be a failure whose ramifications will reverberate for years; maybe it won’t. But one news cliché or another won’t make it so. The only way we’ll know that for sure is if, four or eight years from now, partisans and pundits are calling the next President’s problems his or her Healthcare.gov.

36 comments
pinballpsycho
pinballpsycho

Perhaps "Obama's Katrina" is getting a bit over-used.  How about "Obama's Mount St Helens" or "Obama's Krakatoa"? "Obama's Madrid Fault"... "Obama's ice age"... "Obama's Chicxulub"... 

We should pick out every Obama political disaster and correlate it with it's own natural disaster just to see if there are enough natural disasters.

VenusPsychic
VenusPsychic

well my view from outside of america , and i am european , well everybody always worry to visit america  and broken something of being sick there because hospital doctors.. etc are bloody unresonnable  expensive !! and i wonderwing how people how live there deal with it!! health is more important than everything in life and the health system in america know it and make a lot of profit :-) . this is only my point of view

mary.waterton
mary.waterton

There are half a dozen ways to apply for Obamacare and the internet is only one of them. The website is not the problem. Obamacare itself is the problem. The majority of Americans don't want it. Yet the liberal democrats are determined to force it on everyone.


"If you like your plan, you keep it. Like your doctor, keep your doctor." -- Barack H. Obama

LaffingCrow
LaffingCrow

I seem to remember that the aftermath of Katrina was called Katrina-gate.

CarlLegg
CarlLegg

Obamacare helps more people at the expense of gutting small businesses.

yogi
yogi

BP oil spill: "a natural disaster". *Chuckle* They've gotten to you too, JP! It is kind of nice that every scandal isn't being named "-gate" anymore, maybe in the future everything will be called "Hurricane Katrina presents [scandal]-gate.gov"

RobertNguyen
RobertNguyen

Obamacare = Helping 100% of the population get insurance for healthcare coverage irregardless of their health condition - just like the rest of the civilized world.

Katrina = Watching helpless people die during a storm and flooding with no capacity for compassion nor willingness to help.

Enough said... 

firmsoil
firmsoil

Yeah right, at least localized Katrina went away in weeks/months... this offal is going to stink indefinitely!

charlieromeobravo
charlieromeobravo

James, why do you hate America?

Seriously though, I'm glad someone in the media is pointing this out because the media has, maybe, a 3 month memory. Any chance to engage in hyperbole is an opportunity to feed red meat to their respective partisan audiences and nothing gets both sides riled up like fretting over a potential Obama mistake.

Lucelucy
Lucelucy

Favorite recent tweet (can't find original right now): "No, you can't keep your doctor. BBC hires a new actor every few years."

Openminded1
Openminded1

@mary.waterton He lies, denys or just omits it is his way most cons work that way. This guy even lies about his true religion. that is why you can not trust Muslims.

CarlLegg
CarlLegg

@mary.waterton  

We like our small business health care plan, but they're taking away the incentives for keeping it.

jponiewozik
jponiewozik moderator

@yogi Wait, oil-drilling platforms aren't a naturally occurring phenomenon off the Gulf coast? I just assumed they rose from the ocean floor, like volcanic islands. 

Um, yeah, perils of typing faster than thinking. Will correct!

Fitzwilliams
Fitzwilliams

@RobertNguyen Well, yeah. If the site worked as it was supposed to. Even though I don't think this issue should be compared to a hurricane, people were told things about the Affordable Care Act that have frankly not come true.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@firmsoil Uhm....there are STILL large areas of Louisiana and Alabama that have not recovered from Katrina, not to mention the fact that Katrina affected the Black population of those states in a tremendously disproportionate way firmsoil. 

CarlLegg
CarlLegg

@Robbert5 @CarlLegg  "Ummm no"

Robbert5,

Our accountant just informed us that any business using a non-ACA health plan will lose their Health Insurance Tax Credit. For our small business, that's about $15,000 per year penalty.

I won't get into the details, but bottom line is that, when our policy expires next year, our best solution is to:

1.) Drop our health care coverage

2.) Pay the ACA fines

3.) Give everyone a proportionate raise and tell them to go buy ACA insurance

Here's the problem. The comparable ACA plan is about 30-40% more expensive than our private plan, so the raise won't cover the difference. What's worse, between the raises and the ACA fines, we will have to layoff 1 or 2 people.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@barneydidit @firmsoil That part of the city like new orleans and parts of AL , like Detroit needed to be cleaned up anyway now is the chance to clean all of it up and restart.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Robbert5 @commentonitall @Openminded1 @mary.waterton That is all he got. Unhinged you sound like the one that is unhinged and has a problem with proper english. You sound a bit upset by the truth and being called out. relax go out to a nice dinner get laid if you can or try Prozac.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@commentonitall @Openminded1 @mary.waterton by the way stupid I am black, just say it like it is, Just because barry is black does not mean i have to buy his bs, when you are black wimp you know black bs when you hear it,

Openminded1
Openminded1

@commentonitall @Openminded1 @mary.waterton It is meant to be ironic dummy. Why you do not buy the fact he is  a muslim?

Robbert5
Robbert5

@commentonitall @Openminded1 @mary.waterton Just flag him.  He has a tendency to become completely unhinged really quickly.  He typically hangs out at the Morning Must Reads section and starts off with insults of any kind really.  That is all he got.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@CarlLegg @Robbert5 Carl flag this guy he does nothing but lie, he has admitted to working for the democratic party and is paid to go on line like this, he hates me because I caught him at it.

Robbert5
Robbert5

@CarlLegg @Robbert5 That would be the individual not the company then....  Again small businesses with less than 50 employees do not have to provide an insurance benefit.

Other than that, the government has every right to regulate commerce and the health insurance market which is hard to deny hasn't functioned well.  New plans in general cost much less with better coverage and the rise of premiums is at the lowest point in 30 years.  ACA is already working and working well where it matters, to bring down the overall cost of healthcare without losing the coverage and care.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Robbert5 @CarlLegg are you black,a bleeding heart liberal, dumb, or all of the above. your love for Obama seems very strange above and beyond the normal democrat or lib.

CarlLegg
CarlLegg

@Robbert5 @CarlLegg  

Everyone was happy with the plan. It adheres to OUR standards. Now the government is telling is it's "not good for us." That's nonsense and a terrible invasion of liberty. 

Losing a major tax credit, after counting on it for 10+ years, is indeed a penalty. Call it whatever you wish, we will be giving an additional $15,000 / yr  to the government if we keep our current (and entirely satisfactory) plan. 

You are mistaken about the fine. ANY individual that does not have health care is required to pay a fine. This is called the "individual mandate". 


Robbert5
Robbert5

@CarlLegg @Robbert5 From what I can take away from your comments is that the plan you are offering to your employees does not adhere to the new standards.  It means that you will have to come up with a plan that actually covers things.  IMHO not a bad thing.  

Second, this only applies to companies who have more than 50 employees.  Businesses who have less than 50 employees will not face the fine.  You are talking about appr 3% of small businesses that are impacted.  

Losing a tax credit is not a penalty btw.

In the end it is your choice to drop the healthcare plan and pay the fine.